Feminists for Life’s pro-woman, pro-life lectures create a groundswell of support for FFL Pregnancy Resource ForumsSM by raising awareness about the needs of pregnant students and student parents, sparking a discussion about pregnancy resources available on campus, and emphasizing needed improvements. FFL’s Pregnancy Resource Forums then move the discussion beyond the polarizing abortion debate to a working dialogue, inviting key campus policymakers and students to work together toward solutions for pregnant and parenting students.
Read more about Feminists for Life’s groundbreaking Pregnancy Resource Forums below.
What exactly is an FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum?
An FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum is a panel discussion of university administrators and community resource leaders. Pregnant women, parents, and birthparents are also invited to be a part of the panel or contribute as audience members. Led by an FFL moderator who takes an inventory of pregnancy and parenting resources on and off campus and shares solutions from other campuses, the forum guides audience members and panelists to set goals and create a tailor-made plan for your university.
How did FFL’s Pregnancy Resource Forums start?
Shortly after FFL President Serrin M. Foster began visiting and lecturing at college campuses, she realized that she rarely saw a visibly pregnant woman. “Where have all the pregnant students gone?” she asked. Former FFL board member Jeanne Pryor illuminated the reality of the situation for women on campus by sharing her story as a young pregnant student during a board meeting: “Without housing, daycare, and maternity coverage, it didn’t seem like much of a choice.”
“That powerful statement took Feminists for Life’s philosophy to the next level: Create real solutions for those with the highest risk of abortion, and focus on future leaders. At the end of the meeting, we knew that we could actually change the direction of the debate. Rather than simply arguing over one of the worst things that could happen to women — abortion — we would focus on transforming society by advocating for solutions so that abortion would become unthinkable,” Foster said.
The first-ever FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum was held in 1997 at Georgetown University. Representatives from Health Education Services, Residential Life, Campus Ministry, and the nearby Northwest Pregnancy Center participated. After this first forum, which became a model for the nation, Georgetown University employed a full-time Pregnancy Services Counselor at Health Education Services who offered pregnancy and sexual assault counseling services. Hoya Kids Learning Center, a daycare facility, opened that same year. A year later, the office of Health Education Services implemented free home pregnancy testing kits and a pregnancy hotline. Georgetown University’s pro-life student group, GU Right to Life, started a volunteer babysitting co-op and organized diaper drives for the local Northwest Pregnancy Center.
What can an FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum accomplish on a college campus?
In addition to identifying, strengthening, and creating on-campus resources for pregnant and parenting students, FFL’s Pregnancy Resource Forums serve to bring the issue of student parenting out of the shadows and into the forefront of student life on campus. As Director of Health Education Services at Georgetown University and annual Georgetown University panelist Carol Day has stated, the forum is “an opportunity to let people know that there are students choosing to be parents, and that the university will support that. It is a good opportunity to say, ‘You might not think about [pregnancy resources], but we do, and we’re trying to encourage students and let them know that pregnancy and parenthood is a reasonable option for them.’”
Since that first groundbreaking forum at Georgetown, Feminists for Life has held Pregnancy Resource Forums at many schools, including Boston College, University of Maryland, Northwestern, University of Illinois, Pepperdine, George Washington, Fordham, University of Virginia, Stanford, Harvard, Notre Dame, Berkeley, Swarthmore, University of Chicago, Tulane, Oberlin, Gonzaga, and Johns Hopkins. Georgetown University continues to host a Pregnancy Resource Forum each year to reevaluate and improve upon resources.
Read more about the pro-woman, pro-life solutions FFL’s Pregnancy Resource Forums have inspired below and check out praise for the forums.
How can I host an FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum at my school?
Contact FFL’s College Outreach Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org today for step-by-step instructions to organize the event, free ads, and sample invitations for panelists. An FFL lecture is highly recommended the semester before this event is held in order to galvanize support among the student activists on campus. Don’t let pregnancy terminate an education.TM
FFL also recommends this event become an annual event. This program became the inspiration for part of the Pregnancy Assistance Fund. Federal grants are awarded to qualifying states every three years until 2020.
|Examples of the pro-woman, pro-life solutions and crucial resource development
on campuses across the nation inspired by FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums.
• Following an FFL lecture on campus in 2009, student parents at Loyola University in Chicago were inspired to establish an informal childcare co-op to help meet the needs of student parents and their families.
• The pro-life student group at University of Maryland created a Pregnancy Resources Committee, as well as a new Pregnant and Parenting Services website.
• Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan created a Pregnancy and Parenting Services school website, streamlined and improved the Health & Counseling Services offices’ ability to help pregnant students, and trained Financial Aid staff in assisting student parents.
• A student parent support group was established at Xavier University, offering educational materials and emotional support.
• An entire network of student-parent support was strengthened at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, emphasizing collaboration between the on-campus Women’s Center, the Children’s Center, and the Health Center. Improvements included the installation of diaper decks in restrooms, lactation stations and nursing rooms for student mothers, and an online database to advertise resources and connect student parents.
• After Serrin’s speech, Wellesley pro-life and pro-choice students held a back-to-school rummage sale with items students left at the end of the previous school year. They raised over $4000 to help student mothers on campus.
• Students at the University of Virginia established free babysitting services for student parents.
• North Carolina State University held a potluck dinner to help connect parenting students to one another, encouraging them to form their own network of support.
• After FFL Honorary Co-Chair Patricia Heaton spoke at to a packed hall at Pepperdine University in California, Dean Mark Davis invited Serrin Foster to moderate a Pregnancy Resource Forum. Before the Forum, Heaton and Foster met with members of the task force dedicated to examining campus resources and developing proposals for improvement.
• Realizing that some women who had just learned of their pregnancies were not aware of all the resources available on and off campus, a new handout was created for women who had just learned they were pregnant from health center staff. Pregnant women learned they wouldn’t be thrown out of school and given practical resources. Family housing was also created, and the Student Handbook was modified to include pregnancy resources and information. In 2003, Cindy Brown (now Vice Chair of FFL’s Board) served as executive director of Room at the Inn (RATI), a pregnancy resource center and maternity home based in Charlotte, North Carolina. When one of the Room at the Inn board members, Abbot Placid Solari, offered a donation of land, its Board of Directors envisioned a new pregnancy care center located adjacent to the campus of Belmont Abbey College. As Cindy was researching in preparation for a board strategic planning meeting, trying to determine who most needed help and identify gaps in services, she found Feminists for Life’s website. “FFL’s was the most complete, helpful, and strategically focused website aimed at identifying and assisting the highest risk group,” Cindy said. “Major light bulbs went off for me, and subsequently for the Board of Directors. The Abbot insisted on an FFL lecture at Belmont Abbey College immediately after seeing FFL’s materials.” With the help of Serrin Foster and FFL’s College Outreach Coordinator, Cindy organized Feminists for Life lectures at Belmont Abbey College, UNC-Charlotte, and Davidson. Cindy then invited Serrin Foster to meet and talk with the Room at the Inn’s Board and strategic planning committee. Since 2003, Room at the Inn has raised half of the $3 million needed to build and staff its new facility at Belmont Abbey College.
As you can see, once you begin making a list of ways student activists can help pregnant students and parents on your campus, the possibilities are endless! When you create small steps for change and work to revolutionize your entire campus, you help make the crucial difference for women and children on campus.
Share your creative solutions and keep the revolution alive! We want to know about your efforts – so be sure to keep us updated on what you are doing on your campus to support pregnant and parenting students. Send your ideas to email@example.com so we can share your progress with other pro-life student leaders!
“We received a lot of positive feedback regarding the Forum — one student said it was the best event she’d been to at Fordham. Support for creating a task force to address these issues was strong.”
Laura Notess, Fordham University. FFL Moderator: Serrin M. Foster, November 18, 2010.
“We have some work to do now that we’ve identified some ways we can improve campus for student-mothers. We’re now going to replace the “‘Pregnant, need help?’” stickers in women’s bathrooms, start a student-parent organization, and work with Hoya Kids to give priority to student-mothers over faculty-children.”
Libby Hambleton, 15th Annual Pregnancy Resource Forum at Georgetown University, March 23, 2011
“As the national coordinator of Medical Students for Life, I owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Serrin Foster and her pioneer work with Feminists for Life of America. She has given college pro-life activists the tools and language to engage society with woman-centered solutions to abortion, effectively bringing the end to abortion that much closer.”
National Coordinator, Medical Students for Life, 2010
“I met Serrin Foster when she moderated a Pregnancy Resource ForumSM at the University of Virginia a few years ago. At that time I was very active in NOW and pro-choice. I’d like to thank her for laying a small seed at that time. It has taken a few years of soul searching to come to a pro-life stance and it has come at a personal cost with former political allies… There can be no denying that since Roe vs. Wade the promise of economic equality has not been delivered. Women who have made the ‘choice’ to have children and chose to stay in the workforce suffer because of it. Why is that? Does the pro-abortion movement want to answer that question? No. Because it opens a dialogue that they do not want to have.”
Lela Graham, Charlottesville, Virginia, 2010
“My husband and I welcomed our daughter, Corinne, into the world on February 22. During my pregnancy I did not find that resources were readily available on Tulane’s campus to assist me with this enormous change in my life. Fortunately in my case I had my husband and family to support me, but I would imagine that many other women do not have that level of support, and would feel very much alone under similar circumstances. Resources that would assist an expectant mother in the challenges she faces on campus would allow our female students to be able to make truly meaningful choices in this area of their lives. After all, Tulane should be a place where the coming of a new life is celebrated and met with as much encouragement and support as any other life experience. Thank you [Joyce McCauley-Benner for moderating FFL's Pregnancy Resource ForumSM]. This is a wonderful opportunity to offer meaningful support to meet the varied needs of women on our campus.”
Tasha Grant Dennis, Tulane University, 2010
“I had some concerns about hosting the forum at Pepperdine. But these were quickly allayed after talking to Serrin Foster. Her main purpose was to get people together on campus so that she could share information about how different colleges assist students who are pregnant and help us brainstorm how we could work together. She never raised controversial policy issues such as abortion or contraception. We focused on hearing the concerns of our students, and the resources we have to assist pregnant students. Before the actual forum was hosted, one of my staff members contacted the different departments involved (e.g., fi nancial assistance, health center), and they met to review what we are doing and how we could better coordinate. Then on the day of the forum, we all met for dinner with Serrin Foster and [two-time Emmy winner and FFL's Honorary Chair] Patricia Heaton to discuss our plans. The forum consisted of Serrin asking panel members questions about how their department responded to pregnancies; then the fl oor was opened up for students to ask questions. The dialogue was constructive, and in the end, we left with several good ideas. Ultimately, we added a statement to our Student Handbook on how the University responds to pregnancies and who to contact for support.”
Mark Davis, Dean of Student Affairs, Pepperdine University, 2008
“This event was co-sponsored between the GVSU Women’s Center and the Pro-Life student organization… I do think the students who came to the presentation were receptive and engaged in positive debate. We had students who were both pro-choice and pro-life. Each party felt comfortable to share their opinions and statistics-I thought that was wonderful! I do think it’s important to talk about unplanned pregnancy and resources with our students. Even though our students were split on life vs. choice they were all aware and educated on options and resources available to them if they ever found themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. Hopefully they will remember and share that information with their friends. Personally, I would recommend it to other schools. Being willing to facilitate a discussion in a safe environment to talk about pregnancy in college, for all students, is important. Students need to know what their options are-no matter their choice is.”
Vicky Powers, M.Ed., Program Advisor, Educational Support Program,
Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, after
Joyce McCauley-Benner moderated a FFL Pregnancy Resource ForumSM, 2008
“I believe it’s important that pregnant women and mothers understand that there are fi nancial aid options to help them reach their educational goals. Although it may not come easy or immediately, if they are willing to educate themselves, plan, and prepare, they can be successful. I think the panel helps promote awareness, which is a good start.”
Lisa L. Tran, Financial Aid Counselor/Federal Work Study Coordinator,
University of Maryland Offi ce of Student Financial Aid
during a forum moderated by Serrin Foster, 2010
“I thought the forum was informative…I did learn about some resources that I wasn’t aware of before… I thought that it was well laid out and gave a lot of information. It reaffi rmed what I already knew that there is no centralized place to get information about resources available on campus or in the community but that we have more resources available here than in some other communities. Something that was strengthened was my interest in working with the Women’s Center to centralize information about resources available. I think that this would be a good forum to have at other schools as long as it was carried out as professionally… I like the diverse number of panelists and all the information provided.”
Angela R. Clark, Assistant Program Director, African American Cultural Center,
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 2008
“I enjoyed the forum very much. I admire Serrin Foster’s thoughtfulness, sense of humor, and commitment to practical community interventions to support pregnant students. She motivates others to examine their commitment to standing with pregnant students!”
Sheila McMahon, M.Div., Director, Boston College Women’s Resource Center, 2010